To uncover and appreciate the hidden blessings of Traditionis Custodes, we need to see it in the context of the overall battle for the Mass and Faith that has raged since Vatican II. As described by the National Catholic Register, Archbishop Arthur Roche’s November 14, 2021 statements about the motu proprio provide some of that vital background:
“Pope John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei and Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum ‘were established in order to encourage the Lefebvrists, above all, to return to unity with the Church,’ Archbishop Roche continued, referring to the SSPX by the name of its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. ‘It’s clear that Traditionis custodes is saying: OK, this experiment has not entirely been successful. And so, let us go back to what the [Second Vatican] Council required of the Church,’ the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said.”
If, as he says, Ecclesia Dei Afflicta and Summorum Pontificum were both intended to “encourage the Lefebvrists . . . to return to unity with the Church,” the latter motu proprio may have been a carrot but the former was certainly a stick. In any case, Archbishop Roche’s statement provides the crucial Traditionis Custodes context from Rome’s perspective.
We can get the SSPX complement to Archbishop Roche’s perspective from former Superior General Bishop Bernard Fellay’s 2007 response to Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum:
“[T]here is in Pope Benedict XVI the clear desire to re-affirm the continuity of Vatican II and the Mass which issued from it, with the bimillennial Tradition. This denial of a rupture caused by the last Council—already shown in his address to the Curia on December 22, 2005—shows that what is at stake in the debate between Rome and the Priestly Society of St. Pius X is essentially doctrinal. For this reason, the undeniable step forward made by the motu proprio in the liturgical domain must be followed—after the withdrawal of the decree of excommunication—by theological discussions.”
John Paul II believed in a “living character of tradition” that allowed for dramatic modifications to the Faith.
In the discussions between the SSPX and Rome about the Tridentine Mass, there has always been both the liturgical question and the doctrinal question. We can see this clearly in the 1978 meeting between Archbishop Lefebvre and the newly elected pope, John Paul II, as described by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais:
“On November 18, through an initiative of Cardinal Siri, the new Pope received the Archbishop, who said he was ready ‘to accept the Council in the light of Tradition,’ an expression used by Pope John Paul himself on November 6: ‘The Council must be understood in the light of all holy Tradition and on the basis of the constant Magisterium of the holy Church.’ The Pope said he was happy and saw the problem of celebrating the old Mass only as a disciplinary question. Then Cardinal Franjo Seper, whom the Pope had summoned, exclaimed: ‘Be careful, Holy Father, they make a banner out of this Mass!’”
Whereas John Paul II was then inclined to permit the Tridentine Mass on the basis that it was simply a disciplinary question, Cardinal Seper warned that the SSPX’s preservation of the Tridentine Mass would be a banner that would lead others to go along with the movement to preserve all of Catholic tradition.
So what is the battle over tradition? Archbishop Lefebvre believed and taught what the Church had always taught. Fittingly, his tomb has the words of the apostle St. Paul: "Tradidi quod et accepi" (I have transmitted what I have received) (I Corinthians 15:3). The pre-Vatican II popes had warned about those trying to introduce liberal and modernist errors into Church teaching, and the archbishop heeded those warnings. Like all serious Catholics, Archbishop Lefebvre understood the absolute necessity of St. Paul’s warning to the Galatians:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8)
On the other side of the battle, John Paul II believed in a “living character of tradition” that allowed for dramatic modifications to the Faith. Other than the ever-worsening sexual scandals, almost every aspect of the crisis we now see in the Church was already present by the time Archbishop Lefebvre decided to consecrate the four bishops in 1988. The Remnant’s March 21, 2011 Statement of Reservations Concerning the Impending Beatification of Pope John Paul II (https://www.remnantnewspaper.com/2011-0331-statement-of-reservations-beatification.htm) provides examples of several problems from John Paul II’s papacy that are as bad as what see now from Francis. The most fundamental difference is that whereas John Paul II had to help design and construct the counterfeit religion under the cover of supposed piety — and he could make kissing the Koran look pious — Francis is now tasked with introducing the counterfeit religion to the world as the grotesque masterwork of Satan and his globalist minions.
Other than Satan, though, the enemies of the Church likely care about the Mass only insofar as it represents a banner for the true Catholicism that opposes their anti-Catholic and globalist agendas.
If Archbishop Lefebvre had died, or merely decided to give up the fight, prior to consecrating bishops, Rome would have gladly confiscated his “banner for tradition” and few (or none) of us would have the great blessing of attending the Tridentine Mass on a regular basis. He would have avoided excommunication, but we would have lost the Mass we love. Catholics can certainly question the archbishop and his SSPX, but we have the Mass because he was willing to sacrifice tremendously for both the Mass and the integrity of the Faith.
Even so, we generally care more about access to the Tridentine Mass than we do about our ability to freely combat the errors that Archbishop Lefebvre saw so well. Other than Satan, though, the enemies of the Church likely care about the Mass only insofar as it represents a banner for the true Catholicism that opposes their anti-Catholic and globalist agendas. Many of these enemies have realized through experience that the Tridentine Mass eventually leads souls to oppose the Spirit of Vatican II, but they have been willing to trade access to the Mass for doctrinal concessions or silence for several decades. For them it is a cost-benefit analysis, and until Traditionis Custodes there was some benefit to allowing the Tridentine Mass.
Accordingly, were it not for Rome’s perverse desire to diminish the significance of the SSPX’s banner for traditional Catholicism, there would have been no Ecclesia Dei Afflcita or Summorum Pontificum to grant greater access to the non-SSPX Tridentine Masses. In that sense, we feel the great loss caused by Tradionis Custodes only because the SSPX’s persistence in carrying the banner for pre-Vatican II doctrine prompted Rome to grant non-SSPX Catholics greater access to the Tridentine Mass. If the SSPX had walked away from that battle at any point, Rome’s enemies of tradition would have had no incentive to keep dangling the Tridentine Mass carrot in efforts to keep souls away from the SSPX. We can (and should) shout from the rooftops that the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated, but the reality is that Rome’s cost-benefit analysis has shifted and Francis and his collaborators no longer see a benefit to allowing the Tridentine Mass. Our task and responsibility is to accept God’s grace to see this for what it is and respond with a holiness and fervor that will shatter their diabolical calculations.
Which brings us to the hidden blessings of Traditionis Custodes. Many commentators have observed that Traditionis Custodes puts to rest the notion that there was continuity between Vatican II and the traditional Catholic Faith.
Which brings us to the hidden blessings of Traditionis Custodes. Many commentators have observed that Traditionis Custodes puts to rest the notion that there was continuity between Vatican II and the traditional Catholic Faith. Of itself, this clarity is a great blessing, but we can see others. As Fr. Davide Pagliarani, the SSPX Superior General, wrote in his July 23, 2021 response to Traditionis Custodes (https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/letter-father-pagliarani-about-motu-proprio-“traditionis-custodes”-67623), God has allowed this for our good: “Since Almighty God has allowed all this, it is certainly for a greater good.”
We can see these blessings in at least five ways: a greater appreciation of the Tridentine Mass; an opportunity to choose the Catholic Faith with greater fidelity; much more certainty than Archbishop Lefebvre had in 1988; a highlighting of what the enemies fear most; and the connection to the apparitions of Fatima and Akita.
Greater Appreciation for the Tridentine Mass. Fr. Pagliarani wrote of the way in which this trial allows us to better appreciate the value of the Mass:
“Firstly for ourselves, who have the undeserved good fortune of knowing the Tridentine Mass and who can benefit from it! We possess a treasure with a value we do not always appreciate, and which we perhaps preserve too much out of simple habit. When something precious is attacked or scorned, we begin to appreciate better its true value. May this ‘shock,’ provoked by the harshness of the official texts of July 16th, serve to renew, deepen and rediscover our attachment to the Tridentine Mass! This Mass – our Mass – must really be for us like the pearl of great price in the Gospel, for which we are ready to renounce everything, for which we are ready to sell everything. He who is not prepared to shed his blood for this Mass is not worthy to celebrate it! He who is not prepared to give up everything to protect it is not worthy to attend it!”
This applies not only to those whose enjoyment of the Mass has not (yet) been interrupted by Traditionis Custodes, but also to those who must now appreciate that we may lose it at any time. If we see the Tridentine Mass as the “pearl of great price,” we can better decide how much we are willing to sacrifice so that we can attend it with greater frequency. “He who is not prepared to shed his blood for this Mass is not worthy to celebrate it! He who is not prepared to give up everything to protect it is not worthy to attend it!”
But it has become more and more clear that Vatican II itself is to blame for the great crisis in the Church and world.
Opportunity to Choose Catholic Faith with Greater Fidelity. Fr. Pagliarani also described the way in which Traditionis Custodes forces us to embrace the Catholic Faith in an even more complete manner:
“Our Blessed Lord certainly has another objective in mind in allowing this new attack on the Tridentine Mass. No one can doubt that in recent years many priests and faithful have discovered this Mass, and that through it they have encountered a new spiritual and moral horizon, which has opened the door to the sanctification of their souls. The latest measures taken against the Mass will force these souls to draw all the consequences of what they have discovered: they must now choose – with all the elements of discernment that are at their disposal – what is necessary for every well-informed Catholic conscience. Many souls will find themselves faced with an important choice that will affect their faith, because – and let us say it once more – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the supreme expression of a doctrinal and moral universe. It is therefore a question of choosing the Catholic faith in its entirety and through it, choosing Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His Cross, His Sacrifice and His universal kingship. It is a matter of choosing His Precious Blood, of imitating the Crucified One and of following Him to the end, by a complete, rigorous and coherent fidelity.”
Many critiques of Traditionis Custodes have focused on the idea that most of its “victims” never question Vatican II. But it has become more and more clear that Vatican II itself is to blame for the great crisis in the Church and world. Francis’s motu proprio should prompt Catholics to confront the fact that certain key documents from Vatican II have been exploited to advance the anti-Catholic initiatives that have ravaged the Church for sixty years. With his Ecclesia Dei Afflicta, John Paul II turned traditional Catholics against each other; we should seize the opportunity presented by Francis’s Traditionis Custodes to unite in unfettered defense of the Mass and the unadulterated Catholic Faith against the real enemies of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Do we wish to compromise when it is so clear that Francis and his anti-Catholic collaborators need us to endorse the Spirit of Vatican II and remain silent about its errors?
We Have More Certainty Than in 1988. When Archbishop Lefebvre made his crucial decision in 1988, he understood the tremendous responsibility he had for his own salvation and the good of the Church. Although the archbishop made his decision with great peace and calm, knowing that he was “doing the will of God,” as Bishop Tissier de Mallerais described in The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre, we also know the great tribulation that preceded the decision.
For our part, the decision is much simpler — do we wish to do all we can to remain completely Catholic or not? Do we wish to compromise when it is so clear that Francis and his anti-Catholic collaborators need us to endorse the Spirit of Vatican II and remain silent about its errors? It seems instead that we will have no excuse if we fail to adhere to the truth, and attack error, cost what it may. If we do all we can at this moment to remain Catholic — embracing the Tridentine Mass and the genuine Catholic Faith — we may eventually find ourselves “excommunicated” by Francis and his collaborators. But they have, in many ways, already excommunicated Our Lord and His Truth, so we should not be scandalized if this is our reward as well for loyalty to the Mystical Body of Christ.
Highlights What the Enemy Truly Fears. We can also learn a valuable lesson from this attack on true Catholicism. If Francis and his collaborators deem it necessary to defend Vatican II and alienate those who love the Tridentine Mass, surely it is because they recognize that their success depends upon proliferation of the errors so evident in the Spirit of Vatican II. In permitting this evil, God has allowed us to see the weapons we must employ as this battle intensifies.
Connection to Fatima and Akita. Christopher Ferrara’s 2009 article in The Remnant, Fatima and Akita: A Fateful Concurrence (https://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009-0531-ferrara-fatima_and_akita.htm), includes a detail which should provide us even greater reason to see the Traditionis Custodes wakeup call as an incalculable blessing:
“In [The Secret Still Hidden] I show that the former Cardinal Ratzinger, who conferred face-to-face with Bishop Ito in Rome concerning the Akita apparitions, told Howard Dee, the former Philippines Ambassador to the Vatican, that the Message of Fatima and the Message of Akita are ‘essentially the same.’ In that case, one would expect to find in the Fatima message something ‘essentially the same’ as the Akita message of October 13, 1973, the very anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima.”
We either follow the religion believed and practiced by the saints or the counterfeit religion that gave us Pachamama and is defined primarily by its opposition to actual Catholicism.
If this is true, then we can look to the message of Akita to get a better sense of the portion of the Third Secret of Fatima that remains hidden. Here is the message of Akita:
“As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms that will remain for you will be the Rosary and Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the pope, the bishops, and the priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their conferees…churches and altars sacked, the Church will be full of those who accept compromise and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of My sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them.”
What compromise could possibly be more clear than the one Francis presents us with in Traditionis Custodes? We either follow the religion believed and practiced by the saints or the counterfeit religion that gave us Pachamama and is defined primarily by its opposition to actual Catholicism. And if we follow Francis’s unjust demands to abandon the Tridentine Mass and keep silent about the errors terrorizing the Mystical Body of Christ are we not leaving “the service of the Lord?” Let us instead adhere to the Tridentine Mass, oppose the Spirit of Vatican II with increased vigor, say the Rosary with devotion, and pray for the conversion of those who persecute us.
We know the way, may Our Lady of Fatima obtain for us the grace to stay the course. Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!
Watch the Latest from RTV: THE ELON MUSK EFFECT: Is the Great Reset Going Senile?